University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee



Fair Use

“Fair use” refers to section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976. Section 107 of the Copyright Act allows the “fair use” of copyrighted materials in the classroom.

Current fair use doctrine identifies four factors which are to be taken together when deciding whether materials may be used in a course without seeking specific permission from the copyright holder.

These four factors are (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; (4) the effect of the use on the potential market value of the copyrighted work. These four factors are elaborated in this short discussion of Fair Use.

This link to the Fair Use Checklist provides a useful way to analyze the four factors with respect to your own course materials. Exercise your fair use rights with caution; if in doubt, always seek permission.


This resource is not a substitute for legal advice. If you want specific advice about a copyright matter, you may contact the UWM Office of Legal Affairs.